Radio juggernaut iHeartMedia is launching its own dedicated space in Fortnite to host events and concerts. The virtual park, which has been given the rather obnoxious name of iHeartLand, is being developed using the game’s creative mode and will feature several different areas.
The park includes a main stage called State Farm Park (in collaboration with, you guessed it, insurance company State Farm), mini-games, and a digital “headquarters” for iHeartMedia. The mini-games could change as the park evolves, but the handful that will be featured on launch day include car racing, an obstacle course, and a building game.
The headquarters itself includes a virtual broadcast recording studio and a replica of the tunnel seen on iHeart’s real headquarters in New York City. There’s no mention of what the recording studio will be used for, but perhaps iHeartMedia presenters will drop into the digital space to record event commentary.
The State Farm Park stage features a massive screen for watching performances, a red carpet where you can snap selfies, and a lawn area with vendors selling emotes and virtual fireworks in exchange for gold (which you earn by playing mini-games). The gold currency is unique to iHeartLand, but it’s not clear if the emotes are exclusive or available elsewhere in Fortnite.
It’s also worth noting that, despite the Fortnite creative mode being used to build iHeartLand, this is an independently created experience and is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Epic Games.
Twenty events are currently planned for the virtual world over the next 12 months, the first of which will be a prerecorded performance from Charlie Puth, showing on September 9th. The concert will feature new music from Puth’s upcoming album, and players can win gold by participating in a trivia game hosted by Puth. A separate album release party will also be screened in iHeartLand on October 7th.
An important distinction from other virtual concerts, such as the performances from artists like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott in Fortnite, is that Puth will not feature as a digital avatar. Instead, the show has been prerecorded for a 2D screening on the State Farm Park stage.
iHeartLand is part of the media giant’s investments in Web3 and serves as an attempt to market itself to younger audiences. We’ve seen a number of successful marketing stunts in recent years using Fortnite as a platform for metaverse entertainment, with Ariana Grande’s own Fortnite concert being attended by 27.7 million unique users and 12.3 million concurrent access players.
Those stats might excite the iHeartMedia marketing team, but most of the notable metaverse performances have included big names doing well-publicized shows with virtual avatars. The obvious question here is: will the younger market care as much about watching a prerecorded concert in iHeartLand?
Both iHeartMedia and State Farm are seemingly ready to adapt should the current iteration of iHeartLand flop. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter iHeartMedia’s chief marketing officer Gayle Troberman said that “iHeartLand and State Farm Park may evolve differently and dramatically” based on what players “love and what they love less.”